Can mark this prelude/Ozzymandias practise essy question Watch
To explore this question to its full extent I believe I must firstly explore what it means by both the words power and pride. By power I refer to the power one person has over another, the power of a person’s beliefs and the power of position. By pride I allude to one’s self-respect, how highly they view themselves in their own minds. In both Wordsworth’s The Prelude and Shelly’s Ozymandias, they present the relationship between these two abstract nouns as a pair, indicative of each other and through this each poem tells of how this power and pride is taken away from someone. However, whilst Wordsworth explores his own human struggle Shelly uses this close relationship between power and pride as a vehicle to critique the reigning monarch of the time King George the 3rd.
The Prelude is fundamentally an autobiography, whereby in this extract we see a young adult version of Wordsworth going through a traumatic event “A huge black peak, black and huge” which not only took away his innocents but also his pride and power.
Now this traumatic event could be numerous things, however most likely it could be seen as either when his parents died or when he lost his faith in revolutionary politics however it’s clear to the reader that after said event happened he had lost innocents, pride and power.
This is firstly demonstrated in the text by Wordsworth use of form. At the start of the poem Wordsworth writes in clear, ten syllable line, iambic pentameter however on line twenty-one when he sees the “huge...black…peak” he loses the iambic pentameter with the line stretched to eleven syllables. This loss of Wordsworth’s structure could be seen in two ways. Firstly, if you’re parents died, or you question your belief quite literally the structure of your life falls apart. Or prophase, on the other hand, emphasising the traumatic event by making himself appear to be almost lost for words. Either way after this point in the poem Wordsworth seems to lose his confidence and almost his power over language and the pride in himself.
This is shown in the sudden flip in language. Again, at the start of the poem on the first line it’s a “Summers evening” which instantly suggests that he is positive, that everything is perfect and happy. Further this by Wordsworth’ s power over language using beautiful imagery such as “glittered idly in the moon” which not only fits into this picturesque summery semantic field but also further reflects Wordsworth’s confidence and power both as a young man and a writer. However, contrast this with this overwhelmingly negative language at the end of the poem “there hung a huge darkness” and you see that by contrasting both semantic field and beautiful imagery with simple, negative descriptivism “darkness…huge” you see that Wordsworth through the course of the extract has lost all of the power and pride he had.
On the other hand, Shelly also shows power and pride being taken away from the titled character in his poem Ozymandias. This is again shown through Shelly’s use of form. Ozymandias starts off written in Shakespearean sonnet form, before transitioning into a Petrarchan sonnet, making it its own unique sonnet. Ozymandias’s transformation through sonnets demonstrates Shelly’s views on power. He believed that power transitions from one person to another but in the end, interestingly only art remains shown through how only the “the shattered visage” remains.
So, we have established through Shelly’s use form that Ozymandias much like Wordsworth has lost his power but what about his pride?
Shelly cleverly uses contrasts in Ozymandias to show how the self- titled “King” losses his pride. Ozymandias called himself “King of Kings” which is an obvious biblical illusion to Jesus who was also known as the king of kings. This shows to the reader that Ozymandias’s pride is overwhelming and is presented as arrogance by Shelly. And yet contrast this with his now “boundless and bare” kingdom and you see that Ozymandias and his empire is gone. Shelly shows the “King of Kings” arrogance was misplaced and has since diminished.
Now this is where the poems contrast against each other. Shelly was a second-generation romantic poet (unlike Wordsworth who was a first) and was hence was against the ideas of control. He was especially a critic of the ruling monarch of the time King George the 3rd, and so the poem Ozymandias can be interpreted as a thinly vailed criticism of King George the 3rd. If this is so Shelly uses the idea of this power and pride and presents it as everchanging and futile. He “mocked” King George showing that although his power may seem big and strong now, eventually his empire will become “lone” and “bare”. Indeed, Shelly’s message runs further true as before I started studying for my English Lit Exam, I had never heard of King George the 3rd.
Whilst Shelly presents this power and pride as futile and everchanging, Wordsworth uses this abstract duo to present a humanistic internal conflict in which he writes to try and discover himself. This personal intimacy is demonstrated through the fact that Wordsworth was a first-generation romantic poet who hence loved and wrote about the power of nature. Hence through this lens we see that Wordsworth has illustrated this traumatic event through the extended metaphor of nature as it is comforting to him and prophase the only way in which he feels he can express what happened to him. So, in the end Wordsworth’s presentation of power and pride is conflicted. He was happy with having both his power and his pride, but then when it was taken away from him it seemingly changed his life negatively, however, it almost seemed to mature him, perhaps suggesting that you only have power and pride when you are innocent and young. Despite this I feel Wordsworth therefore does not definitively comment on their positive or negative effects of power and pride but instead presents power and pride as fundamentally part of the human condition, as part of life.